Even in these days of austerity, savage budget cuts, voter suppression efforts, radical gerrymandering, and favors from elected officials to their cronies, some stories still can shock our sensibilities.  This is one.  Read the rest of this entry

The conversation has finally begun. After 20 innocent children and 6 of their teachers in a school in Newtown Connecticut were brutally murdered at their desks by a severely disturbed young man using powerful semi-automatic weapons, the fog over the nation’s collective awareness of gun violence has begun to clear. The stories of teachers dying while trying to protect their young charges are heartbreaking, though no more so than those same stories that came from the shootings in Aurora Colorado, Brookfield Wisconsin, Portland Oregon, Tucson Arizona, Nickel Mines Pennsylvania, Littleton Colorado, or dozens of other sites of mass shootings. Read the rest of this entry

Kindness is Society

As I watched news coverage last night of the vote to repeal Ohio’s union busting law that newly elected Republican governor, John Kasich, rammed through the state legislature earlier this year, I was struck about the massive margin the vote garnered.  Issue 2, written so that a “no” vote was “for” repeal, went down by a wide margin, with over 60 percent voting against stripping union rights.  Kasich, publicly rebuked for this blatant over-reach, was appropriately humble in a post-election statement.  Read the rest of this entry

I was on my way to my local grocer this evening when I learned on my iPhone that Steve Jobs had died.  It was one of those moments that, as you grow older, become oh, so familiar…time stops, and that sharp pain of sadness dominates.  My earliest memory of this kind of pain was the assassination of JFK, to whom my blog, this small planet, is dedicated, to the deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, the Challenger explosion, the death of Teddy Kennedy, and even Ronald Reagan’s, with whom I disagreed on almost every political issue, but who I admired for his positive personal presence.

The pain of the loss of Steve Jobs, though, is different, since he has been a constant personal companion to me over the years. Read the rest of this entry

The Big Lie

We all know that politicians tend to play around the edges of the truth, especially when they are seeking election, which seems to be most of the time these days; however, egregious lies have become more commonplace in recent years, fueled by ideological battles over the future of our nation and the role of government.  In the post-Gringrich partisan world, vision of government varies from “nurturing the greater good” of the Founders, along with today’s moderates and progressives to “every man for himself” of the modern day conservative.  In order to foster the perceived necessity of “every man for himself”, the Tea Party funders and GOP strategists do their best to foment outrage of the masses over fake and/or distorted issues, creating crises where none exist, Read the rest of this entry

The Devil is in the Details

President Obama has declared that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. There is a lot to be aware of.  Our kids are fat and getting fatter.  Despite an increase in attention, advocacy, action and media spotlight directed at the problem and its attendant health risks, the needle hasn’t budged in the last year or so.  On the other hand, much really good work that has potential for long-term impact has been done.  We all celebrated a recent triumph when Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which made landmark changes to the school nutrition landscape.  New rules and guidelines will effect 50 million kids.   Read the rest of this entry

Are We The People Ready for Hurricane Irene?

At this hour, rain bands are coming ashore at Nags Head, North Carolina.  The main body of the storm is expected ashore between 2 and 6 am eastern time.  This massive storm is then forecast to run north up the East Coast of the US, crossing Washington, DC, Delaware, New York and Philadelphia, then up into New England and back into the Atlantic over the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  I’ve kept the television on all day with one eye on the the stock market and the other on hurricane coverage.  The weather coverage, at least on NBC, has been very good (compared to past storms) without most of the silly hyperbole and running around trying to find some wind to stand in for a breathless on-scene report.

My big concern, though, is, are we prepared for a storm that could disrupt the lives of some 65 million Americans?  Can we respond as a society to this kind of threat? Read the rest of this entry